Monday, July 14, 2014

American Hypocrisy re: Israel and Palestine

Fighting has broken out between Israel and Palestine again. It's part of a war that has continued since even before partition in 1947. It's a complex history that many people today seem to be clueless about. My comments are not directed at who is right or wrong. This is NOT about choosing sides, and frankly like all things human, there is much good and bad for each. With certainty there are no innocents in this struggle.

If you talk to people in Israel or Palestine, there is a host of opinions.But when you come to America, people are taking sides and their eyes glaze over and the basis for their feelings are too often based on certain religious beliefs or a compulsory need to side with the underdog. Precious little is based upon the actual facts, including the history and realities for both peoples.

Furthermore, and this is what led to this post and where the hypocrisy lies. In defending Palestine, too often I hear the argument that since the Israelis have such overpowering superiority militarily, it's an unfair fight and therefore somehow wrong. Innocents are killed, most often on both sides. Had we not used geopolitical power chess in the region rather than seriously finding solutions after partition, this might have all been avoided. The same goes for many countries in the region. Look, war is wrong and EVERY war kills innocents (and innocence) and I believe war should be opposed for no other reason. But seriously, are we as Americans going to complain about a lop sided military advantage? After we were attacked in 9-11, we have had wars in two countries, and killed countless thousands more than we ever lost. One of the countries we went to war with wasn't in any way connected with 9-11, but that didn't stop us. Still today, drones attack and kill innocent men and women along with the guilty in Pakistan, Yemen, and in certain African nations. I just find it extremely hypocritical to blame somebody else for what we do all the time.

It's an arrogance born of power, and one of the inevitable results of privilege born of colonial power. We don't have colonies as much in the traditional sense, but we nevertheless control those many other people around the world through our wealth and might. Indeed the entire Middle East is made up of nation states informed not by the needs of the people who lived there, but for European and then American convenience. Some conflicts in the region today find their roots in the late 19th and early 20th century when we arbitrarily drew lines and ruled from afar. Troubles in Syria and in our dealings with Iraq and Iran stem from our arbitrary replacement of Sunni leadership with Shia under Bush.

I'd like to make another point here. Israel is not America. Yet we've elected officials who act as if American and Israeli issues are one and the same. In truth I would argue that the people of Israel are far more similar to the Palestinians than anybody else. But after fighting a struggle with each other going back to the 1940's, the rise of the Likud party who still dominates in the nation consensus party of today,we find an Israel that does not care to compromise. The Bible would and did refer to them as "a stiff necked people." The horrible conditions of the people in Palestine aided by the way by Arab nations including Trans Jordan who refused to allow the refugees in because of tribal differences ensuring the ghettos of today) and the uncompromising attitude of a defacto dominant Hamas (despite a ruling Fatah), ensures compromise is unlikely anytime soon. Both are trapped by their own intransigence.

I'm under no illusions. Our arrogance knows no bounds. But our leaders taking the role of cheerleaders for one side is not good foreign policy nor does it support American interests. Then we have the religious figures intent only on their really bizarre alliance with one side based on the idea that the great battle will take place there and Jesus will return and God will kill off all Jews who do not convert, oh please give me a break! We only provide fuel for the disputes to continue. Only yesterday I learned that the American boy who was so brutally beaten by Israel authorities the other day had to deal with his local Congresswoman siding with the Israeli police against her own constituent. On what planet does that make sense? If he was joining the other kids in harassing the authorities and that has not been established, it does not matter. When is it ever okay to handcuff an under age boy and then beat and kick him senseless? How can you side with a foreign nation against your own citizen and constituent? On the other side, I see thinly veiled anti-semitism in some of the opposition to Israel, as well as the threat of the accusation used by those on the other side. Historically both sides can lay claim to some pretty serious oppression and ignoring one for the other seems, well, oppressive.

So I as an American am pissed off at Palestine. I'm also pissed off at Israel. But most of all, I'm pissed off at America. Truly your hypocrisy is showing, once again. Let's work for peace and security for all people, rather than marching lock step to the drums of conflict. While we are at it, pretty good time to do some looking inward as well.

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